Sunday, December 13, 2009

More England v USA Hype

On June 12th, the US National Team will open their World Cup in what will more than likely be the most over-hyped match in this team's history against England in Rustanberg at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

The Royal Bafokeng Stadium, site of this summer's England v USA clash

What should we expect from this match? Well, if history is any indication, not much from the US perspective. The US holds a measley 2-0-7 record against the motherland, although one of those victories was during a World Cup.

The First Upset

The first meeting between the two teams was during the 1950 World Cup tournament held in Brazil. A rag-tag group of semi-pro US players mostly from the St. Louis ethnic neighborhoods defeated the vaunted England squad. The England roster featured the legendary midfielder Stanley Matthews, but Matthew's was rested for the match after having arrived in Brazil late from a Canadian tour.

In front of a paltry crowd of only 10,000 at the Estadio Raimundo Sampaio in Belo Horizonte, Joe Gaetjens would score the gamewinner on a 38th minute diving header. That goal would stand and shock the world as few could believe that the US defeated England 1:0. Interestingly, some in the English press thought the scoreline over the wire was a mistake and reported the score as a 10:0 England win.

The story of the game inspired a book by Geoffrey Douglas called The Game of Their Lives and a movie of the same name. As an aside, I answered a casting call for that movie. They were looking for extras who former players to play during some of the soccer sequences. Unfortunately for my acting career, I was not selected.

Preview from the movie The Game of Their Lives

The Second Upset

The only other result for the US was a 1993 US Cup victory at Foxboro Stadium in which Thomas Dooley and Alexi Lalas both scored on headers over an England team who would eventually fail to qualify for the 1994 World Cup held in the USA.

New RCU Technical Director and Former US National Team player gives his insight on the USA v England match

Desmond Armstrong on USA v England from Ryan Harbaugh on Vimeo.

The 7 England Vicories

England has dominated the remaining matches between the two nations scoring 35 goals and only allowing 5 Yank goals. The two most recent matches in 2005 and 2008 were mostly one sided affairs in which the US looked intimidated to be facing players they watch on TV every weekend.

Can the Yanks pull the upset again?

As much as the US National Team has improved over the years, you'd be hard pressed to think that they'll gain a result. England is a world power. They will be favored and rightly so. Will the US earn a result? I'm going to cop out and say I don't know. The US team is the model of inconsistency. They are capable of beating a world power like Spain on any given day, but just as likely to tie or lose to a team like Haiti the next. It's frustratingly difficult to guess which team will show up.

Our friends at the Free Beer Movement adding fuel to the fire with this rework of the Archibald Willard piece "Yankee Doodle"

One thing is for sure. It will be very interesting to see how the US team who normally operates outside the bright spotlight of the general US sporting media reacts under what will undoubtedly be an intense coverage. If they can handle the hype and subsequent pressure, they could very well do it again and shock England for a third time. At least, that's what I'm hoping.

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